Challah rolls are sturdier yeast rolls that still manage to be light and fluffy. Made with an enriched dough that bakes to a beautiful golden color. Great for sliders or all by themselves.
I’ve experimented with lots of breads over the years but never attempted challah. It’s one of my favorites but I generally purchase one of those beautiful braids from the bakery. I just recently acquired The Sweeter Side of Amy’s Bread which is a cookbook from a bakery in New York, and read where they supply several restaurants in the city with challah rolls. I felt that if anyone could guide me through the process it would be these authors.
The first time I made these, it was really cold outside and my yeast didn’t look that happy, and the dough was sticky. But they turned out beautiful that time and every time since, light and airy and somehow still substantial. I can’t believe I haven’t been making these before. They are my go to bread for sliders or sandwich buns, but they also are delicious as dinner rolls.
All of my other yeast roll recipes have butter and milk or sour cream in them, which gives them that soft rich taste. Challah buns on the other hand are enriched with eggs but have no dairy, just oil. The oil is what makes them more substantial than other yeast rolls. They do need two rises so plan ahead.
When you’re piling on meat and condiments, you need a roll that won’t squish together, and challah rolls are the ideal rolls for sandwiches or sliders. I love it for pulled pork or chicken, it’s also a great bread for hot browns.
Why you’ll love challah rolls
- These rolls will not fall apart which makes them great for sliders or sandwiches. They are hearty but not heavy!
- Because there’s no dairy in them, they are kosher.
- They are golden colored and look beautiful.
- You can make them into a knot for a gorgeous presentation. Use the technique I demonstrate in my sour cream rolls for making a knot.
What you’ll need
- Active dry yeast – this helps your bread grow light and into the beautiful shape you want, you can also use instant yeast.
- Bread flour – there’s a higher protein content in bread flour, giving the bread more gluten and texture.
- Eggs, sugar, flour, salt
How do you make challah rolls
Proof your yeast by letting it dissolve in warm water.
In a medium bowl, whisk together warm water, oil, an egg and an egg yolk, and a little sugar.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the flours and salt. Add the yeast mixture and the liquid ingredients to the flour mixture. Using the dough hook of the mixer, mix for a couple of minutes and then let it rest for 10 minutes before kneading it some more.
Let the dough rise in a warm place for 1 ½ to 2 hours.
Cut the dough into 18 equal pieces. Shape each roll tightly into a round ball and place the rolls side by side, slightly touching in a baking pan and let it rise for about an hour.
Gently brush the tops and sides of each roll with an egg wash to give it that distinctive shine and golden color. Bake for 10 minutes, at 425º then reduce the oven temperature to 350º and continue baking for 5 minutes.
Pro tip: These challah rolls are great to serve with Slow Cooker Carnitas, they’re substantial enough that they won’t fall apart after the first bite.
Challah vs brioche
Some might expect these enriched breads to be interchangeable, but they are actually very different for a few reasons. While both breads are egg based, here’s how they’re different:
- Challah bread is kosher, so there’s no dairy.
- Brioche contains lots of butter and milk, making it much richer
- Since challah is made with oil, the rolls are sturdier
- Challah tends to be thicker than brioche and less sweet
Why I like to use my kitchen stand mixer with the hook attachment
If you have a KitchenAid mixer and aren’t using the C-hook, I need to tell you why it’s time you give it a shot.
The C-hook gets it name from the shape and it’s one of 3 standard attachments for the KitchenAid. It helps to push the dough off the sides of the bowl and achieve the smooth, elastic ball you are striving for when kneading by hand.
Whether you bake once in awhile or get regular use out of your KitchenAid, the C-hook adds a lot of value. It helps take the guess work out of kneading dough and gives your hands a break.
FAQs and tips
You can use instant or active yeast interchangeably. Instant will have a shorter rising time, and some say that active yeast has more flavor. I can’t tell the difference.
There are a lot of elements that combine to help bread dough rise. Factors like the weather outside, the temperature in your kitchen and the humidity all play a part in how the yeast reacts with the flour. It likes a warm and humid enivornment.
Challah bread is an egg bread that is dairy free and is popular in the Jewish community. There’s also a lot of history and significance to this bread.
Once you have added the yeast to warm water it will start to foam after a couple of minutes. If it is not foamy, add a pinch of sugar and if it doesn’t react then your yeast is dead and you should start with fresh.
Challah buns will freeze beautifully. Let them cool first and place in an airtight bag or container.
More yeast dinner rolls to try
Challah Rolls Recipe
- 1½ teaspoons active dry yeast
- pinch sugar
- 4 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 ½ cups bread flour
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 egg For egg wash
- Electric mixer
- In a glass measuring cup, add yeast to a ¼ cup of warm water along with a pinch of sugar. Let stand for 3 minutes until it is foamy. If it is not foamy, throw it our and start again.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 cup warm water, oil, egg, egg yolk, and sugar.
- In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, whisk together the flours and salt. Add the yeast mixture and the liquid ingredients to the flour mixture. Using the dough hook of the mixer, mix on low speed to bring the ingredients together, then switch to medium speed to knead for 5 minutes.
- Turn off the mixer and let rest for 10 minutes, then mix again at medium-high speed for 1-2 minutes. The dough should not pull away completely from the sides of the bowl, but will be a little sticky.
- Put dough in a lightly oiled bowl and turn the dough to coat it. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm place for 11/2 to 2 hours, or until doubled. Punch down to remove the air bubbles.
- Lightly oil the sides of a 9 x 13 pan. Cut the dough into 18 equal pieces. Shape each roll tightly into a round ball and place the rolls side by side, slightly touching, 4 across and 5 down the length of the pan, with only 2 rolls in the last row. Cover with plastic wrap sprayed with oil. Let rise for 45 to 60 minutes or until nearly doubled in volume.
- About 20 minutes before the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 425º. In a small bowl, mix 1 egg with 1 teaspoon of water to make an egg wash. Gently brush the tops and sides of each roll. Bake for 10 minutes, rotate the pan and reduce the oven temperature to 350º. Continue baking for 5 minutes. Watch them carefully as you don’t want them to get too brown.
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
- For a warm place for the dough to rise, boil a glass container of water in the microwave. Add the covered dough to the warm and humid microwave and shut the door.
- These rolls are perfect on their own or as sandwich and hamburger buns!
- The dough will be a little stickier than traditional yeast dough.
- All ovens heat differently so remove them when they are golden brown.